Top job: Margot Freeman

What is your new role?

Head of HR, GE SeaCo Services. This is my first standalone global HR role.

Where were you working before and what were your duties?

I was HR manager, UK & Ireland, for APL/APL Logistics, part of the international Neptune Orient Line shipping and logistics organisation.

What qualifications do you hold?

I have a BA(Hons) in organisation studies from Lancaster University and I’m a chartered fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

What are your main duties in your new role?

I’ll be responsible for the HR strategy of a newly restructured container leasing business, which will have 200 employees based in London, Singapore, Miami, Sydney, and across Europe. I report to the chief executive.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?

To propel the company to the top spot in the global container leasing business. And to get the company into the Sunday Times’ Top 100 Small Companies To Work For league within two years.

What are the challenges HR faces in the next five years?

Retaining great staff in the areas of business development/sales and customer service as commerce moves to a reputation-led culture based on business blogging.

What advice would you give to people starting out in HR?

Keep your own counsel and build up a good network of HR friends away from the workplace – it can prove invaluable.

What is the essential tool in your job?

Being a great networker by having industry-specific business contacts, reliable suppliers and HR contacts in various businesses and through the CIPD.

And the most overrated?

E-mail, and those who use it in a blame culture.

What is the worst thing about HR?

The balancing act between pleasing management and employees.

What is the strangest situation you have been in at work?

During a university vacation, I was an HR assistant at a holiday camp in Morecambe. One day a kitchen porter came to the personnel office as his girlfriend had put hair remover cream on his head while he was asleep and it had fallen out in clumps. He’d retaliated by cutting up her clothes.

Who are your ultimate gurus?

Jesus Christ and William Lever (founder of Lever Brothers, now Unilever).

What is the most annoying piece of management jargon?

‘That ticks all the boxes for me’ – it’s so clinical.

What is your essential TV viewing?

I’m more of a radio fan. I’m always listening to Radio 5 Live for football and news updates.

Who would you most dislike to work with?

Anyone from Abba.

What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?

When I was 26, I gave up a good job at the Ministry of Defence to go to university full time. It was the best thing I’ve ever done and my HR career really took off.

What is your most popular web page? for great travel bargains.

Freeman’s CV

Sept 2006: Head of HR, GE SeaCo Services
2001-2006: HR manager, APL/APL Logistics
1999-2001: HR manager, Bonhams
1998-1999: Interim HR manager, Entergy Power Group
1995-1998: HR manager, Blue Star Line (Vestey Group)

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